January 26, 2022

Tips for holiday travel

AAA offers advice to Thanksgiving motorists

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Joseph Rivera places the nozzle back into the gas pump after topping off his tank before hitting the road Monday afternoon. Rivera spent the weekend visiting friends in Cortland, but is making the drive back to the Bronx to spend Thanksgiving with family.

If your Thanksgiving plans include celebrating out of town, be sure to inspect your vehicle, plan ahead and leave early enough to avoid peak traffic times.

“Just a travel tip — Wednesday and Sunday will be the peak times for travel,” said AAA representative April Engram. “And if you’re traveling to a large metro area, be prepared, because some cities are expecting at least a 300% increase in traffic from a typical day.”

The price of fuel is holding steady this week, staying at $3.52 per gallon in the Ithaca-Cortland area, however, a spike in demand is expected this week with Thanksgiving travel underway, Engram said. Joseph Rivera, 20, took advantage of his college schedule, leaving Cortland on Monday afternoon. Standing at the Speedway gas station on Tompkins Street, he topped off his fuel tank before starting his 230-mile trip home to the Bronx.

“You’ve gotta pay for gas regardless, so fill up your tank,” Rivera said.

On his trip to visit friends at SUNY Cortland this weekend, his fuel level gauge was pointing to empty with
another 40 miles left to go.

“I was a bit scared, but it’s fine and I made it here,” Rivera said. “But everyone needs to make sure they fill it to the top — don’t go home without a full tank, especially in this colder weather, and make sure your heat is working.”

Tips for conserving fuel

  • Map route ahead of time
  • Avoid peak traffic times
  • Combine errands into one trip
  • Use cruise control when possible
  • Keep tire pressure at the recommended level
  • Remove any unnecessary bulky or heavy items from the car

The American Automobile Association predicts 53.4 million people will be traveling for Thanksgiving this year — nearly 6.4 million people more than last year, but 2.5 million fewer than 2019.

“So we’re just about back to normal,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations at AAA Western and Central New York. “The majority of travelers are traveling by car — that’s about 48.3 million people — and AAA expects to rescue about 400,000 people over the holidays.”

AAA dispatch manager Dan Fisher recommends that every driver inspects their vehicle before beginning their road trip, including the battery, tire pressure and tread, windshield wipers and fluid, and defroster.

“But all the preparation for your vehicle in the world won’t prepare you if you’re not paying attention – please, please pay attention to the road,” Fisher said. “Look as far down the road as you can to see what’s coming up.”

Rivera said his dad is a handyman and checks his car regularly, so he wasn’t too worried about his drive east. By leaving Monday afternoon, Rivera hoped to beat the Thanksgiving travelers by a day or two.

“I’m going down to the Bronx, so it’s maybe three and a half hours — four and a half if there’s traffic,” Rivera said. This year, he gets to celebrate with his New York family and a few relatives coming up from Florida. “It’s going to be a relaxing drive, I ride by myself so all of those hours are a time to relax.”